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  • Reviving Haydn: New Appreciations in the Twentieth Century by Bryan Proksch
  • Compiled by Sandi-Jo Malmon and Colin Coleman
Reviving Haydn: New Appreciations in the Twentieth Century. By Bryan Proksch. (Eastman Studies in Music, 124.) Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2015. [viii, 292 p. ISBN 978-1-58046-512-0. $85.00]

The notion of a Haydn revival may seem somewhat perplexing, for Haydn's music has enjoyed great appeal among concert audiences, amateur players, and teaching studios for well over 200 years—not always in fashion, perhaps, but never not played. The critical reception history of Haydn's music, however, is another story, and it is this narrative of the downfall and revival of the critical appreciation of Haydn's music among well-known musical figures that author Bryan Proksch tells here. Nearly all of the names will be familiar to readers with a general music-historical background, and indeed many of the musicians and critics discussed would have known or been known to one another. But, an essential point in Proksch's argument is that these figures had little to no influence on each other, at least concerning their appraisals of Haydn's music, and the structure of this book reflects the author's assessment of the critical situation. Following two chapters that review the decline of Haydn's reputation in the nineteenth century, Proksch presents a series of case studies to explore the variety of means and motivations for the critical reevaluation of Haydn's music in the first half of the twentieth century. That these individual chapters do not often speak to each other is hardly a liability. Rather, this choppiness is more a reflection of Proksch's view of Haydn's critical reception history itself: it is not a unified, big-event revival but a disorganised one, the result of "a groundswell of support from distant and unrelated corners of the musical world" (p. 3).

In the opening two chapters, Proksch rehearses much of the narrative of Haydn's fall from critical favor during the nineteenth century, a history known to informed readers largely through three touchstone essays on Haydn reception, two closely related ones by Leon Botstein and one by James Garratt (Leon Botstein, "The Consequences of Presumed Innocence: The Nineteenth-Century Reception of Joseph Haydn," in Haydn Studies, ed. W. Dean Sutcliffe [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998], 1–34; Leon Botstein, "The Demise of Philosophical Listening: Haydn in the 19th Century," in Haydn and His World, ed. Elaine Sisman [Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997], 255–85; James Garrett, "Haydn and Posterity: The Long Nineteenth Century," in The Cambridge Companion to Haydn, ed. Caryl Clark [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005], 226–38). In this narrative, largely driven by Romantic critics, Haydn's music is derided as naïve, childlike, and emotionally shallow, relevant only as it leads the way to Beethoven's music, while Haydn himself becomes the simpleton "Papa Haydn", a bewigged courtly servant and symbol of the ancien régime. From within this familiar story, Proksch apprehends several themes that relate directly to the case studies that follow, most notably how the nineteenth-century degradation and the twentieth-century revival of Haydn's music are both linked to the championing of newer music by composers and critics.

The case studies that follow center on prominent musical figures active in France, Austria/Germany, the United States, and Great Britain during the first half of the twentieth century. The link between the Haydn revival and new musical works begins in a cultural subset of French composers and scholars, the subject of Proksch's first two chapter-length case studies. When the young French musicologist, Jules Écorcheville, seizing on the celebratory moment of the centenary year of Haydn's death, commissioned several prominent French composers to compose short hommages based on the soggetto cavato H-A-Y-D-N (B-A-D-D-G in Écorcheville's "clef allemande") for publication in his journal La Revue Musicale de la S.I.M., Haydn's music was already appreciated by several of France's most established composers, among them Paul Dukas, Gabriel Fauré, and [End Page 387] Camille Saint-Saëns. Enter here...


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